Isles Need To Search For Offense

The New York Islanders currently sit 1-1-0 on the season, following their lackluster loss to the Florida Panthers on opening night with a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild in a Columbus Day matinee on Monday afternoon.

Andrew MacDonald (sykora93/Flickr)The goals came from Andrew MacDonald on the power play and Frans Nielsen at even strength. Both goals were also scored in the first period, a twenty minute time frame where the Isles put on the pressure early and kept the shot count to their advantage at 9-2. But the offense then began to fade off in the next two periods, only managing two and three shots respectively.

The Wild managed to increase their shot total from two to 12 by the end of the second period, following up the third period with nine more shots for a total of 21 to the Islanders 14. This was also due in part to the Isles spending a large amount of time on the penalty kill. The Wild were 0 for 7 on the power play which also some some 5-on-3 action.

Those statistics are worthy of appluse for the Isles special teams in regards to killing off the man advantage. In fact, Al Montoya was one of their best penalty killers between the pipes, coming up big when he had too. But let's connect the dots here...

Spending too much time in the box + not shooting enough = lack of offense.

The Islanders were bashed for spending too much time in the neutral zone against the Panthers, having only nine shots through the first 30 minutes of the game. Getting somewhere between 20 and 30 against the Wild would have been nice, but that wasn't the case. This team is displaying an early struggle of finding a way to get more pucks to the net.

Having more disciplined play is certainly a first and foremost need for this team, especially once they face more high powered offenses like those possessed by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. But the Isles best forwards, who head coach Jack Capuano called out on Saturday night, need to be the team's best skaters.

Let's take a look at the team's shot leaders:

Through two games, Brian Rolston and Matt Martin lead the team with six shots a piece. Rolston plays on the third line and Martin on the fourth. Both saw time on the PK units as well. Mark Streit, Frans Nielsen, Matt Moulson and Travis Hamonic are in a four-way tie for second place with four shots each. John Tavares sits in third with three, Kyle Okposo and P.A. Parenteau follow him with only two each, with a handful having either one or zero shots so far on the season.

Michael Grabner (THEFANBLOG/Flickr)Michael Grabner is one of the few, amongst Steve Staios, Jay Pandolfo, Marty Reasoner and MacDonald, that only has one shot. Although he is notorious for slow starts, Grabner needs to find a way to get his shots on net if he wants to help this team off to a strong start and get those early points in the season.

Mike Mottau, Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey are the only players without a registered shot on net.

If the Islanders want to find a way to play consistent hockey, in which they will be always be competitive and give themselves a chance to win every night, they will have to find a way to stay out of the penalty box with their top scorers firing on all cylinders.

-Rob McGowan

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db17's picture

I look at it this way, and hockey is very much like baseball in this regard: a good offense can be streaky. If all this particular team has to worry about is its offense, then it is in VERY good shape, in my opinion. My concern going into this season was more for the organization's incessant love affair with one Rick DiPietro, which seems at least to this point to have been replaced with what in my view is a very welcome acceptance of reality....may I even say, "thank God!"....if you believe in that sort of thing. Smile As long as they can keep their defensemen out of the hospital, and their goalie in between the pipes (as opposed to feeling "free to move about the cabin"), they will be just fine- might even make the dance, which would not surprise me at all.

Islebedamned's picture

Perhaps the A, B split squad preseason idea wasn't such a good one? Neither squad played particularly well (at least what I saw televised), so perhaps the first couple of games will be the preseason, and are needed to shake off the rust, get reacquainted, and get the new guys acclimated. I also think there’s been way too much thinking going on the ice, and not enough instinctive / reactive playing. Plus, we’ve got some new line combinations, so take it easy!
On the flip side as db mentioned, we should be more solid on defense this year, injuries (c’mon Milan) not withstanding. Also look at the GA. We’ve given up three goals through two games(one was a ‘gimme, the other a five on three in the Fla. game), so I would agree we are in pretty good shape…so far.
Do I want to see them crush the Rags on Sat. night? Nothing would make me happier, but I’ll be just as happy with a 5-4 win.

Rob McGowan's picture

I agree that the defense is more of a concern in the long run, but early starts are crucial for clubs that look to make the post season and you can't win without goals. All I am arguing is that the Isles have to play more disciplined hockey and work harder to generate more scoring chances.